The Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) on Friday said it is high time duty bearers took a stand against cultural practices and beliefs fuelling gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.
Speaking at Ulongwe Teacher Development Centre (TDC) in Mulanje during a debate between duty bearers and girls and women on what the former are doing to ensure women’s and girls’ rights are not violated, Genet project coordinator Howard Mlozi said when most girls go to initiation camps they are only taught how to make their husbands happy when they go into marriages rather than how they can work hard in school.
He said it is high time traditional leaders and other stakeholders took responsibility to ensure messages girls are told at initiation camps encourage them to work hard in school and not messages that violate their right to education.
In her contribution during the debate, Senior Chief Chikumbu said she has by-laws that protect and stop girls from getting married at a tender age, but the implementation of the by-laws is difficult because sometimes the girls themselves run away from their homes to get married to old men.
On his part, Mulanje First Grade Magistrate Soka Banda said since his childhood, he knows that video showrooms are supposed to start operating at 6:30pm, but here in Malawi and Mulanje in particular the case is different and, as such, children miss classes and spend most of their time at such places.
Genet, with funding from Oxfam, is implementing a project aimed at preventing violence against women and girls in Traditional Authority (T/A) Somba in Blantyre and T/A Chikumbu in Mulanje.